On a rainy day, I headed out to Arm & Hammer Park to watch the Trenton Thunder take on the New Hampshire Fisher Cats. Knowing that Batting Practice would most likely be rained out, I still showed up at 4 pm. Going into this game, I only needed five baseballs to get to 200 lifetime so I was hoping that this would be the day.
Once I got to the right field corner, my theory was proved correct. The tarp was out and BP was a no-go. According to Twitter, if I showed up fifteen minutes earlier, I could have watched Josh Romanski’s simulated game.
The batting cage was in its normal spot in left field.
Since there was nothing else to do, I decided to walk laps around the stadium. On the fourth lap, I noticed what was most likely a foul ball from the previous game caught in the netting above the kids play area.
Knowing that there was nothing that I could do about the baseball, I continued walking around the stadium. By the time I was in right field on the fifth lap, some people who worked at the stadium were talking in the “Kidz” Zone. I asked one of the women if she could knock down the baseball from the netting and she was able to hit it into the bullpen. Then, she picked it up and flipped it to me. She had to put some force into the throw as it was over a chainlink fence however; she put a little too much force in the throw though. I lunged for it as a last chance effort. The ball smacked off of the cement behind me and took a huge bounce. It was headed into the Delaware River. Luckily, it hit off of the top of the fence and I was able to pick up the ball. I was now only four away from number 200.
As I headed to left field, I heard chatter coming from the field. As I raced to the left field corner, I saw the grounds crew removing the tarp.
Shortly after this, the Fisher Cats’ pitchers came out to throw. Suddenly, four more baseballs didn’t seem so hard.
Quickly, I cut the number of baseballs needed in half as Cats’ pitching coach; Tom Signore flipped me up two baseballs. I was only two baseballs away now!
After this, I positioned myself near Deck McGuire.
My decision certainly paid off as Deck flipped me baseball #199.
It started to rain again so the tarp was brought back out and the Fisher Cats left the field.
About a half hour later, the gates opened and I ran to the corner spot in left field.
I took this picture of the Thunder players warming up, as anyone of those baseballs on the ground could be #200.
And it turns out I was correct. #200 was a tossup from Kevin Mahoney. My next “big” milestone is 250 and I’m hoping to be there by July.
During the game, I got the final out ball of the second inning. It was from Clint Robinson.
However, that would not be my last ball of the game because, John Tolisano also flipped me a third out ball later in the game.
The Thunder won the game and we watched the post game fireworks from the parking lot.
30 Baseballs caught in 2013 (202 overall)
7 at this game
6 Balls Per Game Average
4 this season- Brett Krill, JR Murphy, Rob Segedin, Jesus Tiamo
Before the game, I sent out a Tweet to the Cook family hoping that they would be at this game. Although they didn’t plan on attending the game, after they saw my Tweet, they decided to buy tickets and head down to Philadelphia
They showed up about 45 minutes after we did and to pass time before the gates opened, I played catch with Todd’s oldest son, Tim.
At about 4:25, the gates were ready to be opened and in ten loooooooong minutes, we would be headed into the stadium for batting practice.
My first baseball was from Mick Billmeyer, a Phillies coach and I was very quickly on the board. In fact, it was so quick that I didn’t even have time to take a picture of the ball because suddenly, another ball smacked into the seats. Nobody was able to find the ball so a huge crowd of people started to look everywhere. A couple of minutes later, an usher found the ball in a seat and he pocketed it for himself.
I stood out in center field hoping that more baseballs would find the area and give me a second ball.
After ten minutes of nothingness, I decided that center field was a waste of time so I raced to the left field corner spot, hoping that I could get a tossup from Mike Adams. Long story short, Mike completely ignored me for the second straight game and threw all of his baseballs up to kids not saying “please”.
About fifteen minutes of no baseballs, a righty smacked one into the area of seats that was closed off down the third base line. An usher retrieved the ball and handed it to me. That was my second baseball of the game.
About ten minutes later, the ushers opened up the rest of the stadium and I raced down to the tarp area where Marcell Ozuna was playing catch with another Marlin. His partner overthrew a ball and a security guy on the field picked the ball up. He was about to give the ball away to another kid but, after I told the worker that Marcell still needed to use the ball, Ozuna looked at me and told me I would get the ball when he was done. Sure enough, I had number three of the game five minutes later.
After this, I went closer to the foul pole where Tom Koehler was throwing.
When he was finished throwing and started to walk in, he was about 70 feet away from me. I asked him if he could please throw me the ball and he asked me something. He said something along the lines of “Can you catch?”
“Of course.” I replied to him, as I hadn’t dropped a ball since last year. He threw the ball in my direction. At first, it looked like a perfect throw however, the closer it got, the higher it seemed to go. At the last second, I leapt up realizing that the ball would sail over my head. It tipped off of the top of my glove and smacked into seats behind me. It kept on rolling and it ended up two rows in front of me and one section over. I ran over and picked it up and had my fourth baseball of the game.
I headed out to right field and got ignored by Alex Sinabia and the other Marlins. I was in the middle of sending out a Tweet when a hit ball flew in my direction. I had no room to move so I had to hopelessly watch it bloop into the Phillies bullpen.
After fifteen minutes, I decided to head to the right field corner as I saw numerous balls hit over there. Once I got there, nothing was hit into the seats. However, many balls were hit to Mike Dunn and Jon Rauch. None of them ended up in the crowd. There was a ball hit into the corner of right field. This might be a little hard to explain. The wall in the right field corner stays open during BP so the groudskeepers can have easy access to the field. There is an angle caused by the first base line’s wall and the open outfield wall. It is only a couple feet wide. Anyway, a ball got hit into that area and none of the workers could get it out. They told me that I could have it after they closed the fence however; some groundskeeper took it out and gave it to someone else. However, another groundskeeper was walking in with an L screen. She pulled a ball out of her pocket and I had my fifth ball of the game.
I headed over to the Pizza Wedge and joined the Cooks who already had 7 balls at the game. Hershey Park characters led a big parade of Little Leaguers, which seemingly never ended.
In the middle of the parade, Rich Dubee came out to the Phillies bullpen. I asked if he could throw me the batting practice ball in the bullpen but before I could finish asking him, he picked up a newish ball out of the equipment bag. He threw it up to me but Tim didn’t know who the ball was for so, he reached out in front of me. Since it was way to his left, the ball went in and out of Tim’s glove and then it landed right into mine.
As I was taking a picture of this ball, Dubee threw Tim the eight ball of the game for the Cook’s and they were two balls away from 400 lifetime.
About five minutes later, Tiamo (I don’t think I need to specify who this is because he has given me a ball at pretty much every game I have been to so therefore, he has been mentioned a lot.) headed out to the bullpen. I didn’t even need to yell “JESUS” because at this point, he recognizes me and knows what I want. Jesus pulled a ball out of his bag and flipped it up to me and that is when I realized that the sixth ball that Dubee gave me was a personal record for me at Citizens Bank Park as my previous record there was five. This seventh baseball from Tiamo added to my record.
Jesus tossed many fans baseballs after I got mine. Todd Cook got one ball from him and Tim got another. The one that Tim caught was number 400 for the family.
By this time, Cole Hamels and Carlos Ruiz were out for warm-ups.
Some usher who was checking tickets during BP came out and kicked us out of the section. It is amazing that nobody ever said anything during the sellout streak but now, only 40,000 people are showing up at games and that’s when they decided to start checking tickets.
Before we left, I got Tiamo to sign a baseball.
23 Baseballs caught in 2013 (195 overall)
7 at this game
5.75 Balls Per Game Average
One today- Jesus Tiamo
4 this season- Brett Krill, JR Murphy, Rob Segedin, Jesus Tiamo
Another day, another baseball game. This time, the Phillies played the Pittsburgh Pirates for a 1:05 game.
As soon as the gates opened, I headed for center field and got nothing from Herbie or any of the Pirates who were out warming up.
After the Pirates were done, everyone who was out with Pittsburgh headed to the bullpen to watch Jeff Locke throw.
I headed to the other end of the bullpen, near the guy in the blue shirt in the previous picture. I didn’t ask for a ball but I was talking to my mom and a Pirate heard us talking but he didn’t know who we were so he turned around to look at us. When he saw my grey Pirates shirt, he flipped me my first ball of the game. It was rubbed up and clearly looked as if it had seen game action at one point.
I didn’t know who the Pirate was so I sent out a Tweet with the following picture and Zac Weiss (who I interviewed in my previous post) and Robbie Sacunas quickly replied letting me know that the ball was from Jeff Karstens.
Knowing that I wouldn’t get another baseball from the Pirates bullpen, I started to take pictures of Locke and Cole Hamels.
At Citizens Bank Park, left field is the only part of the stadium open for the first hour. Once it is 1:30 before game time, they open up the rest of the stadium, I had to hopelessly watch the Pirates pitchers throwing from a distance. The one ball that went out to left field was a tossup from Vin Mazzaro and it was about 100 feet away from me. Once the rest of the stadium opened, about 90% of the Pirates were gone. Mazzaro was walking toward the dugout and I asked him if he had any more balls. He walked away for a second and then looked back at me with a ball in his hand. He flipped it up and I had number two on the morning. This was another rubbed up one that was once used in a game.
I headed off to the Phillies side hoping to get a tossup from them as the Pirates had pretty much all left. I had to race through the concourse as the Phightins looks as if they may be finishing up their sessions shortly. Once I got there, I stood behind Chad Durbin and Jonathan Papelbon who didn’t have a big crowd as Halladay, Hamels, etc. were closer to the dugout.
The first ball that they were using was an overthrow and it rolled way too far for Papelbon to go after it. Once they were done throwing, I asked for their baseball. Jonathan looked up at me, faked a throw and then walked off with the ball which he proceeded to give to a kid about 20 feet away from me.
As I knew that there were no other chances of getting a ball from the Phillies, I went down to the “Pizza Wedge” in right field knowing that nothing else would happen in the next 45 minutes or so, the time I would wait for Phillies coach Jesus Tiamo to come out to the bullpen.
If you look back at the photo of Papelbon, there is a white speck by the 401 mark in center field.
Did you find it?
Here is a zoomed in picture.
That is the overthrown ball from Papelbon. About 5 minutes later, Pirates bullpen coach, Euclides Rojas walked out toward the bullpen. I had forgotten about the overthrown but Rojas obviously saw it. He picked it up, looked at me and let out a throw from 50 feet away. It was going a little short so I reached out over the railing thinking it would be an easy catch but at the last second, I had to adjust myself because it took a sudden drop. I felt the ball smack into my glove and I had number three of the game just like that!
I then took a picture of Fan Cave Dwellers, Marcus Hall ( White Sox) and Travis Miller (Mets). Both of them saw my Tweet with the picture and they seemed to appreciate it.
And a little bit later, my favorite Phillie (player or coach), Jesus Tiamo came out to the bullpen and started to bounce balls into the dirt for Erik Kratz to field.
EK made a bad play on a ball and then deemed it to scuffed up. He tossed it to Tiamo. In one motion, Jesus caught the ball and flipped it up to me. It was a little short but an easy catch got me number 4.
Cliff Lee came out to begin his warmups.
He stretched out with Erik Kratz, prepairing to throw.
And some friendly discussion.
The turkey bacon man made one final throw and then the duo headed out to the bullpen.
Lee had a quick chat with Rich Dubee and then prepared to throw.
And James McDonald, the Pittsburgh starter.
And then Tiamo gave me another ball, my second on the day from him and my fifth of the game.
During the game, Pedro Alverez hit a long drive.
It was headed my way, but then wind happened.
The ball jutted into foul territory and smacked off the cannon sign on the upper deck before it bounced into a section about 200 feet away from me.
16 Baseballs caught in 2013 (188 overall)
5 at this game
5.33 Balls Per Game Average
3 this season- Brett Krill, JR Murphy, Rob Segedin
Today I conducted my first of many interviews. I was interviewing Zac Weiss of Pittsburgh. So here it is:
Zachary Weiss is a 21 year old ballhawk who is approaching 500 baseballs snagged. He is a junior at Point Park University. When he is not ballhawking, Zac is still active in sports as he is a journalist covering various Pittsburgh sports teams. Zac can be found online at his blog, wewill1992pirates.mlblogs.com and on Twitter, @ZacharyMWeiss. Not only can you read about ballhawking from these pages but you can also read his opinions of many sports topics.
Compared to other cities with less ballhawks, how difficult is it to ballhawk in Pittsburgh were there are numerous other ballhawks?
Pittsburgh definitely has it’s challenges. There are plenty of talented ballhawks here and every day can be tough. We each bring something different to the table and that’s what makes it interesting as there are contrasting styles. Erik Jabs and Nick Pelescak definitely are the two most known here, but Rick Sporcic, myself, Robbie Sacunas and Ian Weir bring it each day. With so many competitors it can be tough, but it’s what brings me each day.
Were any of those people that you mentioned influential in you becoming a ballhawk?
It was a combination of Erik Jabs and Zack Hample. I saw what Zack did at old Yankee Stadium catching some of the last homers there. At the time Erik had the BHL, which was a league that everyone competed in for bragging rights. Essentially it was a less sophisticated version of mygameballs, which is why the league doesn’t exist anymore. Robbie and Rick were not in the picture at the time. When I first met Erik I thought it was one of the coolest things in the world. At the time I had no idea about batting practice. When I was younger I didn’t think it was a big deal getting a baseball, but when I caught a foul ball, I was hooked.
How many game balls do you have?
Just my first ball, a foul ball off the bat of Willie Harris of the Washington Nationals on July 31, 2009
Seeing that your first ball was a foul ball, how special was it to make that catch?
Regarding my first ball, it’s tough to answer, but looking back at it, yes it was special since it’s the only gamer I have. I felt a huge adrenaline rush right after that carried through the game and obviously I still ballhawk which is proof that the adrenaline is still there. My ballhawking game has not necessarily been about the catches but I have been working on that more this season. It is so much more exciting to physically catch a ball then get a toss up or in a scrum because you actually did all of the work.
What Major and Minor League stadiums have you ballhawked at?
I’ve ballhawked at PNC Park, Progressive Field and Oriole Park and Camden Yards.
Can you rank those three stadiums based on ease of ballhawking with one being the easiest and three the hardest?
PNC Park may be easiest for me, but that is likely because I’ve been there so many times that I know a lot of the bounces. Baltimore would be next because everything seating wise is together and it saves you a lot of running time. Cleveland is last. There is a lot of ground in center/right to cover and there is a place the ball bounces right before the seats that makes the ball go higher in the seats and makes things more unpredictable.
Thanks go out to Zac for answering these questions. As more ballhawks volunteer, hoepfully this series will grow into a big deal. If you are interested in getting your name out to other ballhawks, let me know on Twitter (@phiballhawk) and we can figure something out. Thank you for reading this interview with Pittsburgh blogger, Zac Weiss.
Thursday night was Opening Night at Arm & Hammer Park (It is stylized as ARM & HAMMER Park but I think that looks ridiculous).
For the first time this season, there would be a full batting practice where I could take my normal spot in left field.
Within a few minutes, I was on the board due to a quick tossup by Scott Shuman of Richmond. It was a nice catch as I had to make a far leap as if I dropped the ball or misplayed it, the ball would have went onto the highway.
After a little bit of time, I did not get any more balls so I went to right field to try my luck with homeruns.
About ten balls went out into the grassy area that I was alone in. So, therefore, I must have gotten balls 2-11 right?
Literally every baseball that was hit out went into the Delaware River. So that sucked.
After a really long time of nothing, a Trenton player tossed me baseball number two.
Shortly after that, I returned to the left field corner and saw Omar Javier.
I did not ask him for a ball but he did wave and start talking to me.
And although it was not expected, I got baseball number three from him.
I don’t remember the full details of this but I do know that number four was a tossup in right field.
There were two balls at my feet.
Literally at my feet.
Like if I stepped forward one foot, I would have gone over the ball.
However, there was a problem.
Like a huge chainlink fence that couldn’t be lifted up
But as soon as the gates opened, I went to the left field corner and stood behind the tarp.
After a minute or so,a Squirrels player tossed me number five on the game.
Ramon Flores and Walter Ibarra were warming up on the Trenton side about fourty minutes later so I decided to try my luck over in right.
Tyler Austin, the Yankees #4 prospect gave me my sixth ball. It wasn’t even a tossup, more of a handoff as he had the ball in his glove and he handed it to me while he was siging autographs for kids.
The Thunder upgraded their scoreboard for this season. Instead of using it to show stats, it acted as a bullboard for the first four innings of the game. This picture was taken in the middle of an at bat.
Goodnight Arm & Hammer.
11 Baseballs caught in 2013 (183 overall)
5.50 Balls Per Game Average
3 Today- Brett Krill, JR Murphy, Rob Segedin
My next game is on Thursday and it is Phillies vs. Pirates at 1:05 PM
This is my rough schedule of games I’m attending this year and their giveaways. Of course, more games will be added later on. So, here it goes.
Thursday April 11th, Trenton Thunder vs. Richmond Flying Squirrels (San Francisco)
Promotions- Home Opener, Thirsty Thursday, Arm & Hammer Park logo baseball
Nothing really too exciting here except for the ball which will be cool for autographs though.
Thursday April 25th, Philadelphia Phillies vs. Pittsburgh Pirates
Promotions- Science Day, Businessperson’s Special
It is a buisnessperson’s special meaning that first pitch is at 1:05. Science Day takes place throughout the concourse meaning that most kids who show up early will not be in the seating bowl. Awesome.
Saturday May 4th, Phillies vs. Miami Marlins
No promotions here.
Saturday May 11th, Thunder vs. New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Toronto)
Fireworks. So basically nothing because I will leave right after the final pitch.
Friday May 17th, Thunder vs. Bowie Baysox (Baltimore)
Every fan gets a 20th season pennant. I guess I have to carry a pennant around all night then. I only have one other Thunder pennant so it will be cool though. It is Most Improved Student Night but I don’t really think that counts.
Tuesday May 28th, Boston Red Sox vs. Phillies
It is player photo day in the gift shop. I would do it but it takes place during batting practice.
Sunday June 2nd, Phillies vs. Milwaukee Brewers
My dad gets a Phillies shirt for Fathers Appreciation Day so that is cool.
Saturday June 22nd, Thunder vs. Portland Sea Dogs (Boston)
Another fireworks night.
Saturday July 6th, Thunder vs Reading Fightin Phils (Phillies!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)
It is t-shirt night. Awesome giveaway for two awesome teams!
Saturday July 13th, Phillies vs. Chicago Whitesox
HEY, ARE YOU REALLY READING THIS? TWEET ME “YES I AM” FOR A CONTEST ENTRY. Don’t tell anyone else why you sent that tweet. Ignore them.
Saturday August 3rd, Phillies vs. Atlanta Braves
It is Alumni Night which is awesome. All of the living Wall of Fame members line up on the field.
Sunday August 4th, Thunder vs. Fightin Phils
No giveaways at this game. It is a special 5:05 start though
Saturday August 17th, Phillies vs. Las Angeles Dodgers
Another promoless game.
Thursday August 29th, Thunder vs. New Britain Rock Cats
Fan Appreciation Day. Hopefully that means some good giveaway.
Saturday Spetember 21st, Phillies vs. New York Mets
German Heritage Night!
On April 2nd, the Trenton Thunder hosted an open house event. This event fearured a batting practice session and autograph signing in preparation of opening day on Thurday in Portland. I was only attending the batting practice as I could not stay for the autographs. The gates were set to open at 3 PM so I arrived at 2:30
After arriving at the right field corner spot, I had my eyes on 2012 and 13 Thunder catcher, JR Murphy
JR game me my first ball of the game, and the season
After not having any more success, I prepared for Trenton batting practice by setting up in the Left Field Party Porch, right above the visiting bullpen.
After about fifteen minutes, I didn’t get a second baseball. The Trenton players were not throwing anything up. Nothing was hit in my direction. So, I sped off for the visiting dugout as I knew that Kevin Mahoney was fielding grounders. Kevin is a very nice player who threw me numerous baseballs in 2012.
Kevin did not throw me a ball but I did get one because of him. He booted a ball and it trickled down in front of the dugout.
Tony Franklin, the manager of the Thunder walked over and flipped me baseball number two of the afternoon.
Just minutes later, a righty smacked a ball into the picnic area. After it rolled down, it landed about five feet away from me in the visitors bullpen.
Don’t ask how I got this baseball because it is really complicated but I did get number three. Here it is:
Number four was relativley simple:
1) Ball is hit down the left field line
2) Shane Brown fields said baseball
3) Shane Brown looks up at me and throws me the baseball
4) I catch the baseball
The Thunder left the field about 45 minutes early but my day was not yet over as there was still a baseball laying in the bullpen.
A man who worked for the team was wheeling an L screen into its storage and he walked over to flip me my fifth baseball of the practice.
My day was done, five baseballs was a good start to the season.
Although I thought my day was done, I found a baseball in the bushes outside of the stadium!
Atleast I thought I did. As I went to get it, I realized that it was a whiffleball.
5 Baseballs caught in 2013 (177 overall)
5.00 Balls Per Game Average
In conjunction with MLB’s #randomactsofopeningday on Twitter, I will be hosting a card giveaway on my blog. This will closely follow Nick Badders’ giveaways meaning that questions will be asked on here, Twitter and Facebook. At the end of the given time (haven’t set a date yet), all of the points will be trown into a hat and a winner will be drawn.
The contest has been successful so far. However, it may take a long time. Drawing for the contest will not happen until I get to 250 Twitter followers. So start getting people to follow me @phiballhawk.
Question 1) when is my first Trenton Thunder game of 2013?
Answered- Quinn, 4/11/13
Question 2) What MLB games will I be attending in June?
Answered- Nick, 6/2/13, Milwaukee @Philadelphia and 6/25/13, Cleveland @ Baltimore
Question 3) In 2006, who led the NL in first pitch home runs?
Answered- Nick, Andruw Jones
Question 4) When did I get my 100th baseball?
Question 5) What logo is this?
Answered- Brendan, Spring Training
Question 6) How much money does a 11 pack box of Topps Opening Day cards cost?
Answered- Quinn, $9.99
Question 7) What did I do for my birthday?
Answered- Quinn, Took a tour of Citizens Bank Park and went to a Flyers game.
Question 8) What was J.R. Murphy’s walk up song in Trenton during the 2012 season? This may take a little bit of research. Look on YouTube.
Answered- Quinn, Your Love by the Outfield
Question 9) Why was today’s Trenton Thunder game postponed?
Tonight, I will be doing some Trenton Thunder themed Giveaway Friday questions. Whoever gets the most questions correct (points) will win the prize which is some cards.
Only one player has worn all three Trenton Thunder logos – the Thunderbird logo (1994-2001), The “Thor” logo (2002-2007) and the Cloudman logo (2008-present)… can you name him?
ANSWERED- Jared- Carl Pavano
Let’s compare two shortstops who were Eastern League All-Stars while playing in Trenton… Nomar Garciaparra and Eduardo Nunez. Can you name which one fits each of these criteria? (This is from their time in Trenton)
- had a better batting average
- had more hits
- had more home runs
- committed fewer errors
had a better batting average - Nunez batted .322, Garciaparra, .267
- had more hits - Nunez had 160 hits, Garciaparra, 137
- had more home runs - Nunez had 9 HR, Garciaparra, 8
- committed fewer errors - Garciaparra committed 23 errors, Nunez, 33
Can you name the former Thunder star from these clues? I had 28 stolen bases in 55 games for the 2006 Thunder. Last season, I played a rehab game in the city in which I went to college. Who am I?
ANSWERED- Joe Webster- Brett Gardner
May 24, 2012
There are two current Major League Baseball players and a super hero on the Waterfront Park outfield wall this season… can you name them?
ANSWERED- Jared- Spiderman, David Robertson, Hunter Pence
Can you name the first Thunder alum to win a World Series?
ANSWERED- Jared- David Eckstien
In 1996, the Thunder hosted the AA All-Star Game, an event that featured All-Stars from all 30 Major League organizations. This year’s Major League Baseball game featured one player who participated in the 1996 game in Trenton… can you name him?
ANSWERED- Jared- Paul Konerko
Jared- Five Points
Joe Webster- One Point